In Leading Change: Up Close and Personal, my son asked: “Why do they need your help? Why go to the US?”
That’s how conversations started in the family as we explored the answer to ‘Why’. The answer connected to each family member in a deep way. This built a strong foundation for us to weather the pressures and challenges that came with the move to the US.
Leading change is about establishing a vision (for us it was about what life can be in a new country), building unity in that vision, inspiring and motivating about the impending change (Why move?).
But something else was required to implement the change.
“Is ‘Big Foot’ really needed in your luggage? Can we just ship it by sea?” “No! I want ‘Big Foot’ with me.”
“But he’s too big for your luggage. How about bringing ‘Little Foot’ instead. We can ship ‘Big Foot’ by air.
He will be there a few days after we arrive in our new home. He’s just coming on a different plane. He will fit better into this big box.”
“Really? Oh, okay. And can I bring …?”
Managing change (distinct from Leading Change) is about planning, organising, controlling, checking, problem-solving and ensuring change is implemented well, from the perspective of those affected by it, so that the disruption is minimised and long-term commitment to the change is assured.
To implement the family’s move to the US required a plan, a cross-functional team, a number of vendors, a detailed checklist and many discussions with my stakeholders – the family, our extended family, my work colleagues and, to some extent, our friends.
For example, planning what to bring was a big exercise. I listed what we need for shipment by sea or by air, what we carry in our luggage, what we give away, store or even throw in the rubbish bin. Some decisions I made unilaterally; many decisions needed buy-in from the family members and consultations with others.
Finally! The packers have finished their job. Hundreds of boxes (!) were ready for the shipper to pick up. The insurance list is updated.
I have arranged for someone to look after the house and garden.
We have a house in the US.
We bought a car and will pick it up when we arrive.
The children are enrolled in a new school.
I hired a housekeeper.
There were many pre-departure tasks with impacts across my work (the one I handed over to my successor, and the one I am getting into), our home, the children’s schooling, health & financial management, interactions with government & agencies, church, community and civic life.
A plan and a change readiness checklist do not assure long-term commitment to the change.
To manage change requires stakeholder engagement in the process.
Group discussions (how we narrowed down the list of schools), doing things together (packing, creating a travel scrapbook, organising farewell parties), participation in problem solving (limiting the amount we have in our luggage, how to remain connected with friends, who picks them up from school) and decision making (which house, what car, the school) were things that I injected into the process.
Other than delayed flights, our move to the US occurred smoothly.
But change did not stop from Day One.
In the days, weeks and months that followed, the motivation and inspiration from our answer to ‘Why?’ came to help us weather the ongoing pressures that came with the big move.
The principles and techniques of leading and managing change are practical.
You can apply them to work and your personal life.
Do you have a change story to tell? I am keen to hear about it. Write to me or post your story on this page.